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Charles BurnettA Cinema of Symbolic Knowledge$
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James Naremore

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285521

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285521.001.0001

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In His Element

In His Element

Three Short Films and an Epilogue

(p.216) Fourteen In His Element
Charles Burnett

James Naremore

University of California Press

Some of Burnett’s most characteristic and impressive work has taken the form of completely independent, very low budget short films that he has written, directed, photographed, and edited. These films return him to his beginnings as a sort of guerilla filmmaker who works in the streets. This chapter gives three examples: When It Rains (1995), a jazz fable about a neighborhood griot who tries to keep a mother and daughter from being evicted; The Final Insult (1997), an experimental mixture of documentary and fiction concerning homelessness in Los Angeles; and Quiet As Kept, a darkly comic film about a black family that has been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The chapter ends with a comment on Burnett’s work in progress and his continuing importance for us today.

Keywords:   short film, independent film, jazz versus blues, documentary versus fiction, homelessness, black family, Hurricane Katrina, works in progress

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